PRAYER FOR PEACE – WE STAND WITH ISRAEL
Oseh shalom bimromav, Hu ya’aseh shalom aleinu v’al kol Israel, v’imru Amen.
May the One who makes peace above, make peace for us and for all Israel. And we say, Amen.
From Reform Judaism https://reformjudaism.org/torah/portion/vayeira
Vayeira (וַיֵּרָא – I (God) Appeared [to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob]) – Genesis 18:1-22:24
The Eternal appeared to him by the oaks of Mamre as he was sitting at the entrance of the tent at about the hottest time of the day. – Genesis 18:1
- Abraham welcomes three visitors, who announce that Sarah will soon have a son. (18:1-15)
- Abraham argues with God about the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. (18:16-33)
- Lot’s home is attacked by the people of Sodom. Lot and his two daughters escape as the cities are being destroyed. Lot’s wife is turned into a pillar of salt. (19:1-29)
- Lot impregnates his daughters, and they bear children who become the founders of the nation’s Moab and Ammon. (19:30-38)
- Abimelech, king of Gerar, takes Sarah as his wife after Abraham claims that she is his sister. (20:1-18)
- Isaac is born, circumcised, and weaned. Hagar and her son, Ishmael, are sent away; an angel saves their lives. (21:1-21)
- God tests Abraham, instructing him to sacrifice Isaac on Mount Moriah. (22:1-19)
From Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vayeira
2 Kings 4:1-37 (Ashkenazim)/2 Kings 4:1-23 (Sefardim)
The parashah and haftarah in 2 Kings both tell of God’s gift of sons to childless women. In both the parashah and the haftarah: God’s representative visits the childless woman, whose household extends the visitor generous hospitality; the husband’s age raises doubt about the couple’s ability to have children; God’s representative announces that a child will come at a specified season in the next year; the woman conceives and bears a child as God’s representative had announced; death threatens the promised child; and God’s representative intervenes to save the promised child.
From Reform Judaism https://reformjudaism.org/torah/portion/vayeira
By: Rabbi Kari Tuling
STRUGGLING WITH TORAH and REFLECTION
For the next year, we will meet every other Friday for Torah Study to read and discuss selections from Ketuvim, the third section of Tanach (Hebrew Bible), which follows Torah and Nevi’im. Please see the NEW Torah Study-Shazoom schedule below. THIS week we will start discussing Tehillim (Psalms). You can read this week’s Torah Portion at https://www.sefaria.org/Genesis.18.1-22.24, and the Haftarah at https://www.sefaria.org/II_Kings.4.1-4.37
From “The Torah / A Women’s Commentary” edited by Dr. Tamara Cohn Eskenazi and Rabbi Andrea L. Weiss, Ph.D.
וירא Vayeira – Genesis 18:1–22:24
Contemporary Reflection – by Judith Plaskow, pp. 107-8
THIS EXTRAORDINARILY RICH PARASHAH is filled with violence–not just the obvious and dramatic violence of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah and the incipient violence of the binding of Isaac, but also various, more ordinary, forms of violence against women. Half-buried in the vivid description of the people of Sodom gathering around Lot’s house and demanding the strangers staying with him is Lot’s reply, “Look–I have two daughters who have never been intimate with a man; let me bring them out for you, and do to them as you please. But do nothing to these men, for they have come under the shelter of my roof” (19:8). While a later midrash will see Lot’s offer as evidence that he was infected by the wickedness of Sodom and picture him as having been punished (Tanchuma Vayeira 12), the biblical text offers no explicit judgment on his behavior. The violence of the people of Sodom merits the destruction of the city, but the willingness of Lot to see his daughters assaulted and raped is apparently unworthy of comment.
At the beginning of Genesis 20, we have another form of violence: the second of two stories (or two versions of the same story; see 12:10–20) in which Abraham seeks to pass off his wife Sarah as his sister in order to protect himself. In this passage, Abimelech, king of Gerar, seizes Sarah, but her potential rape is averted when God keeps Abimelech from touching her. The similar tale will be repeated once again in relation to Isaac and Rebekah (26:6–11). The three-fold reiteration of the narrative suggests that it might serve as a paradigm of the situation of Jewish women. The first two male ancestors of the Jews, perceiving themselves as “other” and therefore endangered in foreign lands, use their wives as buffers between themselves and the larger culture. The women become the “others’ other,” the ones whose safety and well-being can be sacrificed in order to save the patriarchs’ skins. The story names a pattern that becomes a recurring part of Jewish history: male Jews, subordinated by the dominant culture, in turn subordinate women within their own cultures, doubling the otherness that partly mirrors their own. As in the case of Lot offering his daughters to the people of Sodom, the biblical text offers no comment on or protest against this situation. Unlike when God appears to Abimelech in a dream and threatens him with death unless he releases Sarah (Genesis 12), God does not explicitly chastise Abraham or Lot.
Then, in Genesis 21, we meet still another form of violence–this time Sarah’s violence against Hagar. After Sarah bears Isaac in her old age, she tells Abraham to throw the slave girl Hagar and her son Ishmael out of the house, so that Ishmael will not share in his father’s inheritance along with Isaac. The violence that is practiced by Abraham against Sarah, she now recapitulates in relation to the most vulnerable person in her own household. Thus, the cycle of abuse goes on. In this context, not only does the text not judge Sarah, but God is explicitly on her side, telling Abraham to listen to Sarah because her son Isaac will be the bearer of the covenantal line.
This Torah portion makes clear that our ancestors are by no means always models of ethical behavior that edify and inspire us. On the contrary, often the Torah holds up a mirror to the ugliest aspects of human nature and human society. It provides us with opportunities to look honestly at ourselves and the world we have created, to reflect on destructive patterns of human relating, and to ask how we might address and change them. In Lot’s treatment of his daughters–and in the Torah’s lack of comment on that treatment–can we see the casual acceptance, indeed the invisibility, of violence against women that is so ubiquitous in many cultures, including our own? In Abraham’s seeming lack of concern about the fate of Sarah, can we see the ways in which marginalized peoples are all too liable to duplicate patterns of subordination from which they themselves have suffered? In Sarah’s banishment of Hagar, can we see the horizontal violence that oppressed people visit on each other as they jockey for what seems to them limited resources, rather than making common cause against the forces that suppress them? And what do we do when we see ourselves enacting these patterns in our own personal and political lives? How do we respond to and interrupt them?
It is striking that throughout the portion, God is implicated in the violence in the text. Except in the case of Lot’s willingness to sacrifice his daughters, God carries out or commands the violence (Sodom and Gomorrah; Isaac) or supports it (Abraham and Sarah; Sarah and Hagar). The representations of violence that the text holds up to us are ones on which the human and divine levels mirror each other. There is no cosmic relief, so to speak, from the reality of violence. Abraham’s challenge to God over the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah can thus be seen as a question to both God and ourselves. “Must not the Judge of all the earth do justly?” Abraham asks God “Will You indeed sweep away the innocent along with the wicked?” (18:23). The implication of these questions is that it is the judge of all the earth who creates the ethical norms that Abraham reflects back to God and to which he holds God answerable. But the moral voice in this passage is Abraham’s voice. What happens to that moral vision two chapters later when Abraham betrays his wife Sarah? Can we read these narratives in ways that strengthen our resolve to hold both ourselves and God accountable to standards of justice that we recognize and value–and yes continually violate?
From “Mishkan T’filah / A Reform Siddur”:
FOR OUR COUNTRY p.516
THUS SAYS ADONAI, This is what I desire: to unlock the fetters of wickedness, and untie the cords of lawlessness; to let the oppressed go free, to break off every yoke. Share your bread with the hungry, and take the wretched poor into your home. When you see the naked, give clothing, and do not ignore your own kin.
O GUARDIAN of life and liberty, may our nation always merit Your protection. Teach us to give thanks for what we have by sharing it with those who are in need. Keep our eyes open to the wonders of creation, and alert to the care of the earth. May we never be lazy in the work of peace; may we honor those who have [served, suffered or] died in defense of our ideals. Grant our leaders wisdom and forbearance. May they govern with justice and compassion. Help us all to appreciate one another, and to respect the many ways that we may serve You. May our homes be safe from affliction and strife, and our country be sound in body and spirit. Amen.
We recite MI SHEBËRACH for the victims of abuse, brutality, conflicts, fear, natural disasters, pandemics, tragedies, violence of all kinds especially directed at individuals and specific communities including us, and war; for all those at home alone or lonely; for all those in need of physical, emotional, and mental healing. “R’fuah sh’lëmah” – a complete recovery!
PRAYER FOR THE STATE OF ISRAEL p.552
O HEAVENLY ONE, Protector and Redeemer of Israel, bless the State of Israel which marks the dawning of hope for all who seek peace. Shield it beneath the wings of your love; spread over it the canopy of Your peace; send Your light and truth to all who lead and advise, guiding them with Your good counsel. Establish peace in the land and fullness of joy for all who dwell there. Amen.
We say KADDISH YATOM for those of our friends and families who have died and been buried this last week; those in the period of Sh’loshim (30 days since burial); those who have died in the last year; and those whose Yahrzeits/Anyos occur at this time; as well as the victims of brutality, conflict, disease, natural disasters, pandemics, tragedies, violence of all kinds, and war.
This coming week, the 20th through the 26th of Cheshvan, we lovingly remember:
Gil ben Yitzchak Riis
First Anyos, Uncle of Ruben Gomez
Father of TKH member Aileen Contapay
Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks
Scholar and Emeritus Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth
Those victims of the Sho’ah (Holocaust) who died at this time of year.
“ZICHRONAM LIV’RACHAH” – MAY THEIR MEMORIES BE FOR BLESSING.
TORAH STUDY AND SHAZOOM
We will meet as usual at the regular times for both Torah Study and Shazoom this evening, Friday, November 3, 2023. For the next year we will read and discuss selections from Ketuvim, the third section of the Tanakh following Torah ad Nevi’im.
Zoom regularly updates its security and performance features. Making sure you have the latest version of Zoom, please join us online this evening with wine/grape juice for Kiddush and Challah for Motzi.
Topic: Torah Study – Ketuvim – Tehillim: Psalm 119
Time: Nov 3, 2023 06:00 PM Arizona
Shazoom – Erev Shabbat Service
Time: Nov 3, 2023 07:30 PM Arizona
To join Torah Study and/or Shazoom click on the following link [you may need to copy it into your browser]: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/72510500854?pwd=Z3VQZWF4U1BBZytNYmh3aHFTWkFDZz09
Meeting ID: 725 1050 0854
Hint: The last character of the password is the number zero.
Shabbat Shalom – Buen Shabbat/Gut Shabbos
PS – About Tehillim (Psalms) and the NEW schedule through December 2023:
From My Jewish Learning
From Jewish Encyclopedia
From Encyclopedia Britannica
NEW Schedule for Torah Study and Shazoom (Arizona Time Zone):
November 3, 2023 – Torah Study at 6 pm and Shazoom at 7:30 pm
November 10, 2023 – Shazoom at 6:30 pm
November 17, 2023 – Torah Study at 6 pm and Shazoom at 7:30 pm
November 24, 2023 – Shazoom at 6:30 pm
December 1, 2023 – Torah Study at 6 pm and Shazoom at 7:30 pm
December 8, 2023 – Shazoom at 6:30 pm [Chanukah 2nd Candle before sundown]
December 15, 2023 – Torah Study at 6 pm and Shazoom at 7:30 pm [Chanukah ends]
December 22, 2023 – Shazoom at 6:30 pm
December 29, 2023 – Torah Study at 6 pm and Shazoom at 7:30 pm